by Steven Doyle
We had the good fortune of speaking with Miguel Vicéns and John Paul Valverde both principals of Coevál Studio, a design group whose clientele are mainly restaurants. The group is responsible for concepting new or existing restaurants, and can literally tackle all aspects of the business from design, computer systems, uniforms and even the music to match the cuisine and mood the restaurant is looking for. They have come up with a concept of their own and you will soon be able to visit the Oak Cliff restaurant they are calling Campo Modern Country Bistro.
The conversation is a great snapshot into what’s involved in opening a new restaurant. Coevál Studio has set themselves up as a one stop shop, taking everything into account including the pride in fabricating in-house most everything used through out the building from the faucets to the lighting.
CraveDFW: You are a design group but have come up with a new restaurant concept. That seems unheard of, what’s the idea?
Valverde: The idea behind Campo Modern Country Bistro is really based on what we do on a daily basis for our clients. What we are doing is taking a country house where you might be in the Mendoza region [in Arentina], and you have this place like your grandmothers house, even using vintage style plates. But the idea is to really showcase our direction and design. That is everything from the brand to the name, to the direction of the menu and then handing it off to a professional to run that site.
CraveDFW: The design sounds unique, how do you acquire the furnishings?
Valverde: Our style is not to go into certain magazines and make selections and buy them. We are about designing the spaces and pieces for this actual concept. This means the chairs, the lighting and other architectural elements.
Vicéns: We don’t just do design work or architectural work, we concepted this restaurant as one whole thing, even thinking through the menu itself. Everything is related. We will use rustic materials in a refined way — clean lines in a design style. We are using custom lights that we design and build ourselves. A lot of rustic materials will be used in a refined way.
CraveDFW: What are some other restaurants you have been responsible for?
Vicéns: We designed Hacienda San Miguel on West 7th in Fort Worth. We concepted the whole thing from scratch. We had the client with a menu and they knew what they were going to cook but it was up to us to create everything else.
Valverde: We took their initial idea and rebranded the entire restaurant to go from casual to more upscale and match the 7th District. We took into account their demographic and we did the architectural and interior design and the entire brand for the restaurant.
The one we are working on now is The Orginal Mexican Eats Café in Fort Worth. It’s an 86 year old restaurant that opened in 1926. It’s an iconic restaurant in Fort Worth. The Original is about a month from completion. That one we took from where it was and redeveloped the logo, the menu, the interior and even the furniture.
Vicéns: That was a tricky one without losing its character. We had to be careful not to lose the attraction it had as being the oldest restaurant in Fort Worth. We had to be respectful of the past.
CraveDFW: What did you take into account when designing Campo?
Valverde: Not only did we take the chef into consideration but we also designed it based on the music. So a lot of it is European, so we will have some French music and even South American music. But it’s not a themed restaurant. It will have influence that is mostly European.
CraveDFW: Where is the new restaurant located?
Valverde: It is located at 1115 North Beckley in Oak Cliff, right next to Jonathan’s. It is in an old home very near where my parents live. Because of this we want to respect the neighborhood and keep true to the design and feel that exists.
As a child I remember skateboarding past the property. I went to elementary school two blocks away.
CraveDFW: Tell me a bit about the menu you have planned for Campo.
Valverde: Without going into specifics just yet I can say that it is a Buenos Aires inspired menu, but not the street food. It is based on more the European aspect, the French, the Italian direction.
CraveDFW: Who is the chef?
Valverde: The consulting chef is Matt McCallister. When we were about halfway through the design of this project we knew we wanted him to be part of this and finally approached him. We are excited he is on board with us. He is consulting on the menu and will continue to oversee kitchen operations.
CraveDFW: When are you looking to open Campo?
Valverde: We are 45 to 60 days out. Construction has started, but it is really mostly cosmetic updates.